Occupational Health and Safety
in Scotland: an opportunity to improve work environments
for all.
Full report




News release

Friday 28 March 2014

Independence could deliver a healthier future for Scotland’s workers

Scotland’s poor health and safety record and productivity could be vastly improved if the nation was freed from the Westminster government’s damaging attack on the regulators that police workplace safety, a new report has concluded.

“Scotland’s workers are more likely to be killed than those south of the border, and  deregulation-obsessed  London lawmakers are doing all they can to make matters worse,” said University of Stirling Professor Andy Watterson, lead author of ‘Occupational Health and Safety in Scotland:  an opportunity to improve work environments for all’.

The Stirling report concludes that an Independent Scotland could deliver quickly the practicable, proven and cost-effective measures  necessary to reform Scottish occupational health and safety and reverse the erosion of workplace protection imposed by Westminster.

“Only an Independent Scotland would have the necessary control needed over health and safety laws, agencies, and related budgets and structures involving health, local authorities and environmental bodies to address the current problems,” Professor Watterson argues. “Successive Westminster governments have run down the health and safety agencies and cut budgets dramatically. Good models - far better than those in the UK and wholly feasible for and Independent Scotland - already exist on occupational health and safety and work environments in Nordic countries.”

Co-author Professor Rory O’Neill comments: “Undermining regulation and enforcement of workplace health and safety standards can guarantee just two things – more sick and injured workers and a less productive economy.

“Scotland needs a fresh, independent approach to deliver a high class, high productivity economy and that means supporting responsible employers with a well resourced and visible regulatory system, while keeping its workforce happy and healthy.

“The lessons  from Nordic countries presenting in this report establish the most productive economies are also the best regulated. Norway, for example, has world-leading productivity levels, lower working hours and high occupational safety standards. You don’t have to grind down your workforce to be economically successful, a lesson to which the Westminster government appears constitutionally blind.”

The report’s key recommendations include:


Notes to editors

Occupational Health and Safety in Scotland:  An opportunity to improve work environments for all, Andrew Watterson, Rory O’Neill, Tommy Gorman, Jim McCourt, Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group, University of Stirling, Scotland, March 2014. www.regulatingscotland.org                                                       
Further information: Professor Andrew Watterson. aew1@stir.ac.uk. Telephone : 01786-466283. Mobile: 07563-195904.